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Online pharmacy shoppers 'more likely' to receive MURs

Sempora Consulting: Is there scope to offer a 'virtual' MUR?

Online pharmacy shoppers are almost three times more likely than store-only users to have a medicines use review (MUR), a survey by management consultants Sempora Consulting has suggested.

Nearly three in ten (29%) internet pharmacy users said they had received an MUR in the last 12 months, compared to one in ten (11%) of the store-only consumers surveyed.

Sempora Consulting, which polled a total of 1,001 pharmacy users across the UK, suggested that online purchasing has increased “substantially” for both prescription and non-prescription medicines since the previous 2014 survey, with each category experiencing growth of more than 10% per year.

Sempora Consulting director Francis Prosser told C+D today (September 1) that these figures, combined with the MUR figures, suggest that online patients are becoming “more active users” – not just of pharmacy products, but of all pharmacy services.

“Online shoppers are more likely to be actively buying multiple health-related products,” he said.

Based on the assumption that MURs are an indication of medicine consumption, the fact that online users are more likely to seek medicines advice suggests these consumers are "more active users of pharmacies' products and services, including MURs", Mr Prosser added.

How to respond to online competitors

As an MUR requires people to physically visit a pharmacy, Mr Prosser said an effective advice service is a good way for traditional bricks-and-mortar pharmacies to respond to the growth of online competitors.

“For [community pharmacy], the challenge is to make sure their products are available in all channels in a way that reaches out to consumers," Mr Prosser added.

“Could this be a prompt for some sort of ‘virtual use review’ for those online-only patients?” he asked.

Additional highlights from the survey:
  • 57% of 25-34-year-olds have purchased health and beauty products online in the last year
  • 13% of store-only shoppers think they will use the internet for the first time to buy medical products this year
  • 76% of survey respondents said they would be happy to have their prescriptions dispensed electronically
  • 56% of respondents cite ‘convenience’ as the key factor in online pharmacy shopping


How many of your patients order their medicines online?

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist


"As an MUR requires people to physically visit a pharmacy..."

Well no actually... MURs may be conducted over the phone, but still require a signed consent form (which can be taken by a delivery driver). Not a very well informed consulting director. Also, are these "online pharmacy shoppers" also bricks & mortar pharmacy users? Who's conducting the MURs? The internet pharmacy or a bricks & mortar pharmacy? No information in the article about this. Come on C&D, a bit of editorial control please...

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

You just hit the nail on the head - how are these MURs being conducted online?? Consent and face-to-face in a consultation room, is one of the contract requirements. So how are these being met? The whole thing is a sick joke.

John Cleese, Production & Technical

That's not what the article says. It says that people who use online pharmacies are more likely to get an MUR from somewhere - *not necessarily from an online pharmacy* - than people who just use bricks and mortar pharmacies. Presumably these MURs will be mostly, if not all, provided by an "offline" pharmacy (did the data support that, C&D?). So the article suggests that people using an online pharmacy are more likely to get an MUR from an offline pharmacy than people who just use offline pharmacies. So how loyal are internet pharmacy users? etc. That should have been the key to the story I think.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Online pharmacies doing MURs? How do they get signed consent? I bet they are quality MURs.

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